The importance of being mindful

2018-01-04 00:44:44

Buddhist discussion on Poya day

While mindfulness has taken the west by storm with neuroscientists and psychiatrists recommending it to everyone across the globe. More than 2500 years ago Gautama Buddha espoused mindfulness as the gate keeper that protects his noble disciples.   

Drawing parallels between a well-protected fortress of a city and the life of a disciple, the Enlightened One had emphasized the centrality of mindfulness in the ‘Simile of Fortress’ in Anguttara Nikaya.   

The Buddha pointed out that using mindfulness a noble disciple discerns skillful and unskillful thoughts and cultivates the skillful ones while abandoning the unskillful ones, thus paving the way for wisdom. The Buddha equated this mindfulness to the vigilance of a gatekeeper who carefully lets in the friends and loyalists while keeping away the enemy.   

This very topical theme was the focus on the afternoon Dhamma sermon of the English Dhamma programme of Mahamevnawa, held on January 1st (Duruthu Poya Day) at the Institute of Personnel Management, Colombo 5.   

Mahamevnawa, one of the largest Buddhist monastery networks in the world with over 40 local and overseas branch monasteries and about 700 monks under its wing, was founded by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera.The Poya Day English Dhamma programme is organized every month under the guidance of the much respected Ven. Gnanananda Thera in view of disseminating Buddha’s message to the English speaking followers of the Dhamma. It’s specially aimed at enhancing the Dhamma knowledge of the Buddhist students attending private and international schools so that they can grow up to become noble citizens.   

A useful simile 

Elaborating on the simile that was used, Ven. Kurunegala Rohanakitti Thera, who conducted the afternoon session of the programme, drove home the appropriateness of this simile including the word fortress  drawing parallels between seven features of a fortress. These are features that should be present in the practice of all Buddhists.

The Unshakable confidence towards the Buddha was compared to the, strong firm pillar dug half of the pillar to the ground, which is located in the front of the fortress and the deep and the wide moat or the canal around the fortress to the sense of shame of a disciple which keeps him away from the unwholesome.   

The Sutta which was delivered by the Enlightened One in Sravasti compares the road that encircles the fortress to the sense of concern of the repercussions of bodily, verbal and mental transgression and the weapons stored in the fort to the Dhamma knowledge stored and retained by The Buddha’s disciples, by listening to Dhamma. The latter helps a disciple to differentiate between the wholesome and the unwholesome.   

Parallels have been drawn between the army including elephants and cavalry to persistence with which a disciple abandons the unskillful and cultivates the skillful and the ramparts to his discernment of the arising and passing away.   

The audience which comprised students from private and international schools and a sizeable adult crowd displayed keen interest for the topic with Ven. Rohanakitti Thera regularly posing questions to the audience to keep the session interesting and useful. The Thera also explained the steps taken by his teacher Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thera to ensure that the Sri Lnakan children who emigrate for higher studies are given an opportunity to continue their association with the Dhamma.  Mahamevna through Mahamevna branch monasteries in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and several other countries helps these students in their attempts to pursue the Dhamma.  

The discussion on the ‘Simile of Fortress’ was followed by a meditation session and another Sutta discussion.   

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